Cover image: Christmas Day

Christmas Day

Taking place on 25th December every year.

Christian festival celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ.

Updated 11 months ago

The story of Jesus's birth or nativity is told by the apostles Matthew and Luke in the New Testament - the part of the Bible that describes the life of Jesus and the early Christians. Jesus's mother, Mary, was a virgin when she gave birth, and betrothed to Joseph, a carpenter. When she was heavily pregnant they travelled to Joseph's home town of Bethlehem to take part in a census. The town was full; there was "no room at the inn", and so Jesus was born in a stable and laid in a manger. Shepherds and wise men came to give gifts and adore him - traditionally, people celebrating Christmas give each other gifts as well. The Bible provides no date for the nativity; 25th December was fixed as the date for Christmas over 300 years after Jesus's birth, as a way to turn pagan midwinter celebrations into a Christian festival. Eastern Orthodox Christians (such as those living in Eastern Europe, Russia, Greece, Egypt and Ethiopia) celebrate Christmas on 7 January because their church stayed with the Julian calendar rather than the Gregorian calendar, which was gradually adopted between the 16th and 18th centuries. Take a look at the following pages, which give a range of Christmas teaching ideas:

The Boston Globe Big Picture has collections of photos online illustrating Christmas celebrations around the world:

Find out more about the history and traditions of Christmas, and its pagan precursors, on the following websites:

See also the following publications for schools, available from RE Today: